National Radio Talk Show host Rush Limbaugh joins Chris Wallace for an exclusive interview discussing his take on the feud between Donald Trump and Mitt Romney, and Trump's prospects in the election going forward.
"His dad did much the same thing against Barry Goldwater with a cabal of Republicans, establishment guys, back in 1964," Limbaugh said about Romney. "This is not new. The establishment not wanting outsiders, not wanting conservatives is not new... They were this way with Ronald Reagan before Reagan was elected. They tried to deny Reagan in '76 and they tried to deny Reagan in 1980. They're not conservative."
"I think with the case of Trump, there’s a much bigger upside than downside,” Limbaugh concluded. "A lot of people disagree with me on this but the people who want somebody not of Washington, it's serious this time. It's real."
CHRIS WALLACE: Let's start with Mitt Romney's speech this week in which he basically joined the "anybody but Trump" movement. You say that is going to backfire with Trump supporters and other voters are going to see it as the establishment trying to tell them what to do.
With Mitt Romney listening, explain what he's missing.
LIMBAUGH: Well, it's all that and more. And it's not unprecedented. His dad did much the same thing against Barry Goldwater with a cabal of Republican establishment guys back in 1964. The establishment isn't new. The establishment not wanting outsiders, not wanting conservatives, isn't anything new.
Now, Chris, very briefly, I think there's something remarkable happening here that nobody is talking about. They're skirting the issue. For the longest time, the Republican Party has told us that they can't win with just Republican votes. And that's why they support amnesty. That's why they support the Democrats on many of their issues to go out and get Hispanics or other minorities.
Well, guess who's doing it? Donald Trump is doing it. Donald Trump has put together a coalition, whether he knows it or not, whether he intended to or not, he's put together a coalition that's exactly what the Republican Party says that it needs to win and, yet, look like what they're doing. They’re trying to get Trump out of the race, because they're not in charge of it. They’re not in control of it. And it's the most amazing thing to watch this happen.
Governor Romney comes along and tries to talk people out of Trump, and that's not going to work. You can't talk his supporters out of supporting him. The only guy that will be able to do that is Trump himself.
WALLACE: OK. Let's talk about that because there is a lot of commentary, and some of it coming from conservatives who say that the Republican Party is in it danger of tearing itself apart. We've seen splits many times before over political philosophy, but that's not what's happening this time. This is the establishment, the elite of the party versus the grassroots phase.
LIMBAUGH: Exactly. It really isn't anything new. They were this way with Ronald Reagan, before Reagan was elected. They tried to deny Reagan in '76 and they tried to deny Reagan in 1980.
They're not conservative. This is -- when I hear Governor Romney in his speech last week talk about how the Republican Party must stand for legitimate conservative values. They don't.
That's why they're in the problem -- having the problem they're having. They're not conservative. They're being run by their donors.
You look at these primaries so far, do you realize they don't like Cruz either, Ted -- Chris. In fact, maybe they dislike Cruz more than Trump. But Cruz and Trump are the only guys that have won anything. The establishment candidates in this race cannot get noticed. The Republican primary voters, whether they're close primaries or open, are voting for anybody but candidates attached to the Republican establishment.
WALLACE: I know that you think that Ted Cruz is the real conservative in this race, and we'll discuss him in a moment, but let's talk about Donald Trump first.
How would you feel -- you talked about him bringing new people into the party. How would you feel if he ends up as the Republican nominee for president?
LIMBAUGH: Well, I would feel much the way I feel when anybody is elected. You deal with what you end up getting.
I’m not under any illusion, Chris, that I have any ultimate say-so in this. I’m like anybody else that’s in media. I’ve got my opinions. I share them. I’m not afraid of them.
But you don't win everything. And you ultimately have to take what you get. I think on the case of Trump, there's a much bigger upside than down side.
A lot of people disagree with me on this, but the people who want somebody not of Washington, it's serious this time. It's -- the disconnect between the Republican Party establishment and the Democrat establishment and the people of this country is longer, broader, wider than I’ve ever seen it.
These people in the establishment have been telling us they're the ones to fix everything and everything they've tried to fix, they've botched -- TARP, the recession fix such as the stimulus bill. Look at the college -- college education is an impediment because of how much it costs. A college education is no longer a step up.
The American people have worn out their patience being told by their so-called bettors that you don't know how to live your lives the right way. We need to arrange things for you so you can do things better than you would do yourself. People think it's the other way around.
WALLACE: Let’s --
LIMBAUGH: They would rather invest in themselves than listen to a bunch of people in Washington who do not have a record of fixing anything.
WALLACE: All right. Let's talk about Marco Rubio. He had a tough night last night, three thirds and a fourth. Trump won two states. Cruz won two states.
Afterwards, Trump called on Rubio to drop out and make this a two-man race between Trump and Cruz.
You live in Florida. Is Marco Rubio finished?
LIMBAUGH: I don't see where he's getting traction anywhere and, again, what's harming him? When Rubio won the election, he was a Tea Party darling, he was a Tea Party favorite. What happened? "Gang of Eight".
Whatever the reality is the perception is that he went to Washington and threw in with the, quote/unquote, "establishment". He cannot -- he cannot recover from that. Has not been able to recover from that.
He is seen as now the candidate, the Republican Party and its donors have decided to glom onto next. They tried Jeb.
You look at -- look at Jeb Bush, $115 million and Jeb actually stated in December 2014 that he was going to win this primary by not winning it. He was going to win it without winning base voters. They have made it clear they want nothing of their base. They're embarrassed of their base.
Marco now is attached to that establishment. I don't see his future, not in this particular cycle.
WALLACE: You have not endorsed a candidate, but you talk very favorably about Ted Cruz. In fact, the other day you said he's the closest we're going to come to Ronald Reagan in our lifetimes.
Now, I didn't know Ronald Reagan as well as you did but I did cover him for eight years as president. I’ve got to say that I felt that Reagan was more inclusive than Cruz is, more about trying to soften the edges to get more people inside the tent.
LIMBAUGH: I don't think that's strategic. You're talking personalities. The -- I said this on the air the other day.
I think Senator Cruz's strategy is that there’s 4.5 million, 5 million Republicans that didn't vote in 2012. This is the conventional wisdom and they didn't vote because they didn't like the nominee, wasn't conservative enough, or there was a religious component. Who knows what?
Anyway, Senator Cruz thinks that if he can get those voters, that -- and everybody else votes the same way they did in 2012, they can win in a landslide. So, he's tailored his message for a specific conservative evangelical. I think it's limited his appeal. I think he has the ability to appeal to everybody.
That debate the other night that you guys did, I don't mean this to be insulting to anybody, I’m just telling you what I saw, he was in a different league on a different planet. Everybody says we need substance in these debates, you've got it. You've got it from Cruz.
The other guys are doing what they were doing. At one point, Trump even had to say, yes, whatever Ted said, I agree with.
He's just in a different league. He understands conservatism because he is.
And he is a nice guy, a likeable guy. He's not crazy. He's not nasty. And he certainly is not -- he’s not a liar. He's a down -- down the middle guy that I -- anybody could trust. He has got plenty of integrity.
This is what happens in politics. The establishment doesn't like him either. It's not just Trump. That's because he is who he is. He is conservative. He does want to get government out of people's lives and that -- we can't have that in the establishment.
WALLACE: All right. Let's look down the line a little bit. There's a lot of talk among the "Stop Trump" movement about a brokered convention. First of all, what do you think is the chance of that?
And, second, if they go into the convention and Trump doesn't have the majority, doesn't have 1,237 but he has more delegates than anybody else, what happens if the establishment -- as you put it -- keeps him from getting the nomination?
LIMBAUGH: Well, you keep a sharp eye who runs this convention? The establishment. These guys, whoever they are, the Republican Party, they run it.
I was looking at the rules the other day. Rule 40 determines everything that you asked me about. If Trump does not get 1,237, the delegates are pledge d to him whether they want to vote for him or not on the first ballot. After that, it is wide open.
But there's also, at least as of 2012 and I think it's subject to be changed anytime they want, candidates, in order to be considered at an open convention, have to have gotten at least a majority of delegates in eight states. They can change that rule anytime they want. They can change the rules whenever they want. There are meetings coming up prior to the convention.
So, they will do, I predict, that if they can't stop Trump in the primary process, they will make an effort to stop him at the convention. I mean, Governor Romney has pretty much telegraphed this.
WALLACE: And what would happen if that were to pass?
LIMBAUGH: And if that happens -- if that happens, there's a walkout. If that happens, then you’ve got utter chaos, because it will exemplify, typify exactly what has happened to the Republican Party and its base.
WALLACE: Here's the question I get most often, Rush, from folks I run into. How does this story end?
LIMBAUGH: I think it ends with everything working out. I think it ends with a nominee. I actually think when we get down to this summer and this all comes together and they pressure and intensity now is taken care of, I think we're going to have a nominee, whoever it is, and we'll have support for the nominee.
I think we're going to move forward because I think at the end of all of this, everybody is going to ultimately realize that if the Democrat Party that is the most destructive force in this country. It's not one of these Republicans. And they have to be stopped and they have to be stopped in this election if this country is to be restored to its founding principles and the ideals that the majority of Americans associate with this country.
The Democrats have to be stopped and that's going to be what ultimately brings us everybody back to sobriety here.
WALLACE: So, bottom line -- all this talk about a rupture or shattering of the Republican Party and if Trump wins the nomination there will be a third party run, you think a lot of that is overblown?
LIMBAUGH: I do but, look, I’m rarely wrong but I could be. There might be a third party. I just think that the realization that Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party posed the greatest threat to our future, children, grandchildren, all of that, is going to bring everybody back to reality.
The Republican Party may be forever reconstituted and changed, which may not be a bad thing either, in and of itself.
Chris, this is real. This is not a phase. This is not a temper tantrum. The average American who I believe makes this country work thinks the Republican Party is actually oriented against its interests and does not understand or believe the crisis they think the country's in.
So, the party will not be healed by any of this. But I think clear heads will prevail and the correct enemy will be identified, political enemy will be identified, and efforts will come together to defeat whoever it is they throw up -- Democrats, I mean.